Earlier this month, Ralli LLP Employment Law Solicitors Manchester reported the European Court of Justice’s (ECJ) ruling that would see travel to and from work counted as working hours for employees. The controversial ruling for employers will have greater ramifications in sectors where travel is the primary way of meeting clients and appointments. For sectors such as sales and social care, in which employees may have to travel frequently for appointments, will be paid for their time reaching their first off site appointment, and for the time returning home from their last appointment.
The ruling presents many potential issues for employers, and while many have yet to comment on the ruling, Charlie Mullins, multi-millionaire founder of Pimlico Plumbers, believes that the ruling is “unworkable, illogical and clearly open to abuse and, if enforced, will mean that many, many businesses go under”, going on to state that the implicated costs reflected in employment contracts and according to Mullins, “it’ll be employers, not customers, who will be forced to put their hands in their pockets”. Mullins goes on to suggest that employers might not be able to employ the best people for the job because of geographical reasons, or even decline jobs because the incurred travel time will mean that those same jobs will no longer be viable with the increased wage costs.
Employers could well be hit even harder by the compulsory introduction of the National Living Wage, for many sectors; especially retail, care and hospitality, the wage increase to £7.20 for over 25s, as well as ensuring that the rate covers travel time as well.
The Chair of the National Care Association (NCA), Nadra Ahmed stresses the risk of employers’ growing expenses, fearing the combined effect of these rulings will mean, “that it is simply no longer affordable to employ a reasonable number of care workers.” The added pressure to the health and care sector might mean that services become strained to breaking point as staff are forced to take on more duties in order to contain the wages bill. This could well have implications for working time and lead to more court action under the Working Time Regulations, which stipulate that workers should not be working more than an average of 48 hours in a week in any 17 week reference period, unless they have signed an opt out.
The evolution of employment legislation, and the improved wage structure is often made in good faith but it is yet to be seen whether these changes will benefit employees on a whole as various sectors take the hit of greater financial burden. It is as yet unclear whether employers will be able to opt of such legislation if they are already adequately subsidising their own employees in what remains a highly controversial issue.